In “Best Laid Schemes,” Murtagh is finally told the secret Claire and Jamie have been keeping from him. But the timing of the reveal really threw me off. Wait . . . what?? Claire has just given Jamie her smallpox potion, which means any second now he should be vomiting and pissing blood. After she blots his chest with nettle mash, he makes his way down to the courtyard for one of the most important conversations he and Murtagh will ever have. I know Jamie’s a tough guy, but I don’t think even he can will away the effects of bitter cascara, rosemary essence, and rose madder.
Earlier in the episode, Jamie tells Murtagh he’s withdrawn the charge (which cancels the duel). Murtagh doesn’t understand why and compares Jamie’s vacillating to a woman in flux. I’m not sure how Murtagh knows so much about this, so I’ll move on
Even if Jamie needed to confer with Claire first about telling Murtagh, he could have found Murtagh wherever he stomped off to and had a private conversation with him. It could have been a great scene between Jamie and his godfather. These two have been through a lot together, and I think this news warranted more time and attention to the conversation and reactions of these two, and the viewer. We don’t really hear what is said – only the word “Randall” and a few Gallic phrases. Through it all, Murtagh remains faithful and dedicated, not questioning something that is almost beyond believing. “If you believe your wife to be a witch, then who am I to contradict you?” Then, he throws Jamie a well-deserved punch.
“You should have trusted me with that knowledge from the beginning.” Right you are, Murtagh.
I don’t believe Murtagh really thinks Claire is a witch. He’s probably heard stories of the stones and then listened to the ballads played at Castle Leoch that tell the tale. “You lived through all these years, then,” he says, showing her the paper with the years 1918-1945 on it.
My heart begins to crumble as Murtagh struggles to come to terms with his own mortality. “You know what happens to the Jacobites.” Claire nods. “You know how it ends, and it doesn’t end well,” he continues as he stands to face her. “You know when things will happen, when people will die.” His eyes search hers for answers to questions he’s not yet asked. Perhaps he doesn’t want to know.
Claire seems to understand what Murtagh is asking and tells him she doesn’t know when he, Jamie, or anyone else will die. Is Murtagh reassured by this? I’m not sure. Does he believe Claire? I think so. With all that he’s trying to come to grips with, he still considers Claire. “Even knowing what Jamie says you do, I wouldn’t want to bear that burden.” Murtagh keeps winning a special place in my heart.
What if Claire knew the date Murtagh would die? Never mind her or Jamie for now – let’s focus on Murtagh for a bit. If Claire knew the day Murtagh would die, would she tell him? Should she? (If it would save his life, for example?) If she did, what would Murtagh do with the information? If he acted on it, he’d be changing the future, which is why Claire and Jamie came to France in the first place. Well, not exactly for Murtagh alone, but he’s affected by their mission. That bit of information could expand like concentric circles when a rock is dropped in a calm, still pond. It could collide with the others already in motion. If Murtagh knew, what a burden that would be for him.
Would Murtagh leave France and return to his beloved Scotland to live out what’s left of his life before the date Claire would have revealed? I doubt it. He’d never leave Jamie’s side, even if it meant certain death. He’s that dedicated, that committed to Jamie. Jamie’s his godson, his mother the love of Murtagh’s life. He made a promise to Ellen, and he’ll not break it.
What about you? If you knew, would you tell? Who would you tell, and why?
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I would never tell,neither will Claire!
I agree – such painful, heartbreaking knowledge.
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